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This mildly suspenseful first novel about a middle-aged man's shocking discovery of his tragic tie to a street kid he befriends aims for earnestness but stumbles into melodrama. Bighearted Reed Waters, who's content to work in a Washington, D.C., soup kitchen, likes to help out those less fortunate than himself, so when 16-year-old runaway Mauri Dyson turns up on his doorstep, it's only natural that Reed takes her under his wing. But Mauri's intrusion into his life isn't as random as Reed supposes. Mauri has a scheme worked out for Reed that's far from kind and planned in retribution for a traumatic incident that adversely affected both their lives. Conlon (Thundershowers at Dusk) carefully stokes reader anticipation for the discovery of Mauri's secret bond with Reed, but it leads to a finale built on unlikely coincidences and improbable behavior. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.